BRIDGMAN — Bridgman’s Mikaela Owen capped off an impressive junior track season with a pair of state titles and a pair of runner-up finishes in Saturday’s Division 4 state championship meet at Baldwin.
Owen placed first in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and added second-place finishes in the 400-meter run and long jump.
“It’s fantastic, the fact that she was able to do that,”said Bridgman coach John Carr. “She has a great talent to do the thing that she does, because she also plays soccer. Obviously, she’s a very athletic young lady, and she works hard at whatever she does.
“With the weather up there, it was a little bit stressful, because we had to wait in-between events. But she was able to still remain focused and compete at the high level that she did.”
Owen went undefeated in the 100 this season, capping off the year with a personal best time of 12.46 to win the state title on Saturday. That time was also enough to set a Bridgman school record.
Owen’s 200 time of 25.93 was also good enough to claim first. She lost just once in the 200 in the first meet of the season at Grand Valley State University, but never finished second again from there.
“That’s the goal, obviously, to be at the top at the state meet,” said Owen. “I was just really elated that I could win that position. We had looked at the rankings previously just to kind of see where I was at. I was ranked pretty good, so I kind of knew that going in, but I also knew that some of the times were really close together. You never know who’s going to run which event, so you don’t really know who you’re running against.
“I just knew it was going to be a really tough day for competition, but I was just excited to see where I was at in the rankings. I knew that I had a chance at winning those events.”
At the start of the season, Owen didn’t expect to run the 400 at all and was a late addition to the event in an April 17 meet at Brandywine.
From there, she continued to drop time in the event, including setting another school record at the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph Rotary meet on May 3 with a time of 59.82, until qualifying for state on May 17 at the regional meet in Gobles.
Her state finals 400-meter time of 1:00.09 was just shy of Portland St. Patrick’s Annie Gunderson, who took first in 59.59.
“Originally, I was in the (1600 meter relay). At one of the meets, (coach Carr) moved me to the 400 just to run it and see how I’d do,” recalled Owen. “It was moreso a conditioning thing for the 200 as opposed to running it for the 400, but I ended up placing pretty well in it, and we decided, let’s see where this goes. My ranking going in (to state) wasn’t as high as the 100 or 200, but there was some good competition that pushed me to get one of my better times. That was exciting for me at the state meet.” To cap it all off, Owen also set a school record in the long jump on Saturday, leaping 17 feet, 4.75 inches. That jump was enough for a runner-up finish, placing second to only Addison’s Ally McLouth, who leaped 17-9.75.
After setting another school record in the 200 last season as a sophomore, Owen now holds records in all four of her events.
“She’s a very good competitor. She hates to lose,” said Carr. “In long jump, she jumped six inches longer than she’s ever jumped in her life (at the state meet) and still got beat. She complimented her competitor, the person that won, but she was still upset with herself because she got beat. That’s the type of competitor she is. She wants to be the best at everything that she does.”
As a junior, Owen said she’s excited to work towards defending her state titles next season, and would love the opportunity to be the best in the state in all four of her events.
“That’s definitely the goal,” said Owen. “I think that training throughout this past winter has helped a lot with that. I’m going to continue to do so and hopefully keep getting my times down in all three events, and then lengthening my jumps for long jump.
“But I’d for sure I’d like to hold my titles and maybe get two more.”